[opendtv] Re: 2VSB Status? (was Lawmakers Establish 2009 Deadline for Analog TV Phaseout)

  • From: "Peter Wilson" <peter.wilson.hddc@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2005 14:59:48 -0000

I have been a silent observer of this board for some time and would like to
add some of my observations to end 2005.

I sometimes visualise the Muppets when reading the banter and I am amazed
the discussions have lasted for so long.

I was very busy in the late nineties meeting with Senior Network, PBS and
ATSC personalities. This was because the company I worked for at the time,
Snell and Wilcox was a world leader in De-interlacing & scaling, MPEG MOLE
technology and had made the first high grade De-Interlacer/Scaler Chip in
partnership with IBM. This chip is the core of the Snell Interpolator so
performance was not an issue and in fact it was better than the great
majority of chips made today.

The discussions were more about the politics of the lobby groups rather than
deep technology.

Ultimately it came down to US protectionism, Zenith, who held most of the
VSB IP was the last US Consumer player and needed protection from those
nasty foreigners. It is quite typical that zenith was sold to the Far East
with all the IP as soon as the Standard was rubber stamped. 

More recently a V large US Telecoms company tried to burden Iraq with an
obsolete Mobile phone system along the same lines. Get a few noisy Senators
out there and stitch up the market.

It's not surprising that the consumer manufacturers are not interested. OTA
is a political mess and the original reason for the slow take up was CE
manufacturers expecting heavy warranty costs induced by the poor performance
of 8VSB. NIH is rife in engineering so it's naive to expect major CE
manufacturers to rely on a competitor for vital hardware.

As there are a number of other delivery channels in the US why bother with
OTA anyway.

Then you had the PC software lobby who desperately needed to delay
everything for a few years and used old school friends in high places to
achieve it.

In the UK, technology is not an issue, the price was. After the false start
with ITV Digital, freeview has been popular as it mostly just works. Rabbit
ears are only used for secondary receivers in the UK, most houses having
Loft or External Antenna. I just bought my mother in law a $60 freeview box,
I had to try it out. I have lived in my house for 25 years, the antenna was
already there when I bought the house and only once had maintenance when I
sealed up the junction box as it had filled with water. The box just worked
on all channels.At the Mother in laws who has a loft aerial some 15 miles
away the story was the same.

What about mobile? Well most of the teenagers round here scream around in
their little auto's fitted with multiscreen DVD portable players. The auto
is the social meeting place. When the 12 volt freeview box that lets them
watch Big Brother comes out they will rush out and buy them.

Of course this is just SD but the BBC and ITV companies are trialling HD
boxes next year (2006).

So what should you do? 
Change to something that works and is supported fully by all the worlds CE
After all you can keep PSIP and all the other stuff, just replace the bit
that doesn't work, as Stephen has posted many times COFDM is also a US

There is a neat box that plugs into the scart socket
And I have seen a USB stick freeview receiver,

The choice of boxes in the supermarkets for mostly less than $100 is

-----Original Message-----
From: opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
Behalf Of Stephen W. Long
Sent: 24 December 2005 19:14
To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx; opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [opendtv] 2VSB Status? (was Lawmakers Establish 2009 Deadline for
Analog TV Phaseout)

Does any one know the status of 2VSB in the chips / specification for ATSC?

When my small group dared to say publicly that ATSC had no clothes, in a
now classic story, the lawyers on the ATSC side of the table insisted that
robust and mobile reception was going to be delivered via 2VSB.  All of the
8VSB receivers would have 2VSB modes and everyone would be happy.

I have not heard a peep about 2VSB since that time.  Is it possible that
the 20 lawyers on the other side of the table that day that threatened to
sue me personally for delaying the DTV transition were not telling the
entire truth?  Did they know 8VSB reception was problematic and that only
2VSB could provide robust reception?

The most incredible "truth" I ever heard an ATSC proponent say was the
remark - "Oh, ATSC works great - in our tests it worked 75% of the time..."
  In the stunned silence at this remark, an advisor to my boss's boss made
the reply comment that "in our business, we are use to communications
working at least 98% of the time."  My boss slipped me a note under the
table, saying, ..."you were right after all."  I could only nod.

Some of us tried to tell the truth.  We lost the battle, and I was
threatened by one lawyer with personal financial ruin if I continued to
fight - the other side had too much money to buy lawyers instead of
engineers.  ATSC is here, probably to stay.  It still does not work well
enough to warrant the investment made by the broadcasters and since there
is no mass market rush to buy ATSC receivers, free OTA television is a lost
cause in the USA.

At the time, several people told me I did not understand what was really
going on - ATSC was a perfect solution if you wanted OTA television to
fail, which means everyone would switch to cable and satellite, then all of
that UHF spectrum could be sold off to cell phone companies.  I told such
folk they were too cynical.

Now, I am not so sure they were wrong - I believe that is exactly the path
we are on - OTA will cease to exist, or at least no significant number of
people will ever rely on it.  And that is a problem for the Nation.  When
extraordinary weather or even worse events happen, I still believe we need
OTA television to get information to the public.  When a tornado passed
within a mile of my house, I was watching my local TV weatherman and his
Dopplar radar to see the path.  I wanted to SEE the path, not hear about it
on the radio.  My family was hiding in the basement, using rabbit ears on
an old basement TV.  The picture worked!  The DirecTV dish quit working -
clouds too thick.  The cable company here is a joke - service drops out
frequently (when it rains), so I threw them out of the house years ago.

I recently bought the Accurian ATSC DTV box.  I can only reliably receive
three digital stations, in a market of ~10 transmitters.  Using the SAME
coaxial cable, I can get beautiful analog reception on 10 out of 12
stations on my TV/VCR, etc., and the two marginal stations are viewable,
just noisy (low band VHF sucks in my neighborhood).  On the basis of my
superb analog UHF reception, I do not believe it is my antenna that is at
fault.  Since the UHF DTV transmitters are collocated (most of the time)
with the analog UHF transmitters, it is not an antenna pointing problem
that is causing the bad DTV reception.

So, I will repeat the question I first asked in ~1999 - what is the plan to
use 8VSB transmission to provide emergency communications to the American
public?  In public testimony years ago by the then head of ATSC to
Congress, the claim was made that ATSC/8VSB was important to the national
defense - ATSC would be a vital tool for public communications. Will 8VSB
provide at least the same performance as NTSC in this vital role?  No, 8VSB
will never work properly as a reliable communications system in adverse
echo environments (the real world of cities and suburbs, where most of the
people live).  So, can we trust the promised use of 2VSB to provide this
service?  I don't know - I just want to see delivered what was promised.


At 11:40 AM 12/22/2005 -0500, John Golitsis wrote:
>Oh good, you're just as confused as I am over John's last comment.
>Smart is to Mercedes Benz (who offers SUVs) as DVB-H is to ATSC.   
>Related, but catering to completely different markets.
>Even if there was an ATSC mobile "mode", do you really think the  
>networks would allow you to broadcast their material that way?  How  
>much does Verizon and Apple (for example) pay them to address the  
>mobile market?  How much do you?  How much would you?
>On 22-Dec-05, at 11:33 AM, Mark Aitken wrote:
>> What do I and smart cars have in common? Did I miss something?
>> <http://www.thesmart.co.uk/>
>> <http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6605730767077503480>
>> <http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/>
>> And, oh, by the way, Smart Cars are safer than most SUV's...
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